BARNSLEY: Lee Johnson happy with business as John Stones says thanks for emotional England homecoming

John Stones
John Stones

Barnsley boss Lee Johnson is happy his squad strengthening is slowly coming together.

Johnson remains on the hunt for a few more players ahead of next season, but already he has swooped to sign defender Marc Roberts and striker Marley Watkins in readiness for next season’s League One campaign.

Former Halifax Town centre-back Roberts has penned a three-year deal with the club, while Scottish Cup winning hitman Watkins has signed a two-year deal at Oakwell.

Experienced defender Lewin Nyatanga has signed a new two-year deal to stay with the Reds and is hotly-tipped to take the captain’s armband next term.

Nyatanga’s signature particularly pleased Johnson who said: “To find a player at 6ft 2”, left-footed and an international with 250 Championship games under his belt is phenomenal. That just shows our intent to push on next year.

“Even though he was already with us, in the modern day there’s still that loyalty there and that’s nice to know.

Meanwhile, former Barnsley defender John Stones has revealed he was overwhelmed with the reception he received on his Oakwell homecoming.

An impressive 15,207 fans packed into Oakwell to see the Barnsley-born defender play 45 minutes for England Under-21s in their 1-0 friendly win over Belarus earlier this week.

And the home faithful, who saw Stones leave the Reds in a £3million move to Everton two years ago, showed their appreciation by singing ‘that boy John Stones, he’s one of our own.’

Despite going off at half-time, Stones looked solid in defence and came close to heading home early on but couldn’t quite connect with a James Ward-Prowse corner.

“It was a special moment for me and my family, I will never forget that,” reflected Stones.

“I was really looking forward to going back to Oakwell, but I never imagined I’d get such a great reception like that.

“I owe Barnsley a lot and will always be grateful for the help and support I got when I started my career at the club.”

Highly-rated centr-back Stones will now fly out with the national squad to face the Czech Republic on Sunday for the European Championship tournament.

“I am really excited with the team we have got, it should be a great tournament,” added the 21-year-old.

“We try and test ourselves in every way and whatever is thrown at us we will be prepared for that.”